General Studies Paper 3 (Science & Technology)
Question:- 25. ‘ISRO has been one of the most successful organizations in the space sector. However, the changing times demand the involvement of private sector in space.’ Comment. Answer in 150 words.
Jul 27, 2022


In its early years, India’s space programme was constrained by lack of resources but the country found innovative ways of getting ahead in space. ISRO, with successful and economical projects like development of PSLV, GSLV Mk-III,  Mars Orbiter Mission, Chandrayaan etc has established itself as one of the pioneers in space. Also, with the future missions like Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan-3, Aditya L1 and SPADEX, ISRO is surely heading towards a formidable position in space sector thus benefiting the citizens of India on one hand and the global scientific community on the other.



However, in 2022, the space sector is witnessing a boom similar to what the information technology sector experienced in the 1990s.To be fully included in this shift and reaping its benefits, India needs to have an active involvement of private sector in space activities. This is made clearer by the following points:



  1. 1. Boost to economy
  • The space economy market is said to grow over US$ 1 trillion by 2040.
  • The space avenue is an integration of the aerospace, IT hardware and telecom sectors. Investment in this arena would foster positive carryover effects to other sectors as well.
  • India manages to occupy only 2%, or US$ 7 billion, of the global space economy. The small share isn’t solely due to technology and resources but also because of policy. Allowing private entities into end-to-end space activity would help in achieving a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2024.
  1. 2. Low cost
  • The entry of private sector has begun to drive down the cost-per-launch through innovations such as reusable rockets.
  1. 3.Greater pool of resources: 

Public resources- land, labour, capital are limited. Private sector participation will open a new pool of resources and talent. It will bring more funding, and experience into space exploration activities. With increased role of private players, ISRO can concentrate more on its pathbreaking innovations like Reusable PSLVs, Cryogenic rockets, mars inhabitation.

  1. 4.Risk Sharing

Every launch comes with risk. Privatising helps in sharing the risk of cost factor. Failure costs will be distributed. Also with increased private participation, failures will reduce due to increased available human capital and innovation. Joint venture brings the knowledge from various stakeholders minimises failures and increases productivity. India has successfully carried out many Public Private Partnership.

  1. 5.Presence of Budding Entrepreneurs: With demographic dividend, private sector participation can exploit the talent across the nation contributing a lot to space explorations in India. For e.g. Innovative technologies for problems like space debris have been developed by many Indian start-ups. There is need to enhance internet connectivity for the masses, which is another demand pull factor for increased commercial interest in space. Asteroid mining is also another potential area that looks promising, with scope for monetisation and disrupting commodity markets.
  2. 6.Technological advancement: Commercialisation will allow integration of many other technologies like artificial intelligence into space exploration activities. With experience from space activities, private sector can increase role of technology in other areas.
  3. 7.Employment: This would lead to creation of new jobs in the high-skilled-labour market in the private space industry, encourage innovation culture and  help in reversal of brain-drain from the country.
  4. 8. Defence and Security – cyber security, intelligence and space security are the areas that require urgent attention or else, there is a high risk of other nations/ private entities establishing their monopoly.



Developing a space industry ecosystem involving private sector will support the rise of Space 2.0 in the country has the potential to make space the next big technological leap in the country after information technology and bio-technology.Private sector’s involvement in the long term, as with other commercial sectors, is believed to help spur investment and expertise in the realm which is capital-intensive and demands high technology.The private sector already supplies majority of the sub-systems in satellite manufacturing. This can be further scaled up into other activities with proper regulation and partnership of the ISRO and private sector. The formation of NSIL and IN-SPACe have a promising future in this regard.  The country must deregulate the space sector to encourage private enterprise if we are to compete in the new space economy.A new space policy could initiate the rise of India’s own SpaceX- like ventures.